FRIDAY FISH: Salmon on Caraway Cabbage with Horseradish Sauce

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Salmon has become sort of the steak of fish over the past ten years in the U.S. I have no data with which to prove that statement, but offer it up only from my own cooking, teaching, and eating experience. And how that happened is only your good guess, but I’d say it didn’t happen by itself.

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FRIDAY FISH: Cheesy Crab and Corn Chowder

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I’m not big on giving something up for Lent, though I’m observant as a progressive protestant Christian can be. I’ve been writing FRIDAY FISH every week on the blog for five years now just as a way to think about fasting from meat and to increase our health. What’s happened is that I’ve become more of a fish and seafood cook and have gone out on a pole limb recipe-wise. Gotten out of my recipe card so to speak. Each year I’m catching something new (oh, gee), tweaking an old dish, or just looking for less-expensive or more available options –particularly for those of us who live in landlocked states like Colorado where fish is available, but not on the scale or quality it is on the coasts.

…scroll down for more info on lent or eating fish on Fridays…

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Butternut Squash and Lentil Soup for Lunch

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A stocked pantry is something like a gold mine when you’re hungry and you have no idea what’s for lunch. A peek into one big drawer of mine includes several kinds of dried beans, at least 5 kinds of rice, bulgar, barley, polenta, oats, couscous, farro, quinoa, a variety of dried fruits, and usually a couple of kinds of lentils. (A big bank account makes a lot of people feel secure, but I’m rich when my cabinets are full.) When I have no idea what’s to eat, lentils are my go-to. They’re easy, fast, filling, healthy as can be (see below), pair with nearly anything and in many a direction, and they’re even pretty darned inexpensive.

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Crispy Duck Breasts on Parsnip Purée with Spicy Cherry Sauce–Date Night

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Cooking in your own kitchen for date night has this wondrous side result: you get to eat at home. There are no ever-louder-as-they-drink-more folks at the table next door and your comfy jeans are fine to wear all night long.

The love of my life, my fave sous chef in our kitchen.

The wine glasses happen to be the ones you like best, maybe purchased at an estate sale or while on a trip, or even inherited from your great-aunt. Music? Whatever you like, not what the restaurant manager thinks will best go over to all age groups. Hey–you also get to set the table or ask your partner or guest to do the honors while you stir up a little dinner.

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Whipped Cream-Filled Brownie Cupcakes

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For as long as I’ve had my own kitchen, I’ve been making scratch brownies out of the 1971 BETTY CROCKER COOKBOOK. People say things like this, “That’s the best brownie I’ve ever eaten in my whole life.” And you know why? It’s not because I’m the best brownie baker or Betty’s the top of the recipe developers, it’s because most folks are used to boxed mix brownies made with cocoa instead of luscious whole bars of melted chocolate. You know, brownies are nothing but fudge on steroids. Think of them as fudge with flour… and eggs… … and sometimes a little leavening. But unless you make scratch brownies, you don’t know that.

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Dijon Mustard Beef-Barley Stew with Horseradish for Valentine’s Day

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There’s little to recommend a restaurant--any restaurant–on Valentine’s Day. There are exceptions, but often the specials are lackluster, the kitchen is slammed, the servers are exhausted by 7, the other diners are trying to pack a year’s worth of romance into one night (doesn’t work), and the prices are jacked up like the red roses at the florist. Instead, cook at home that night. And, while you’re at it, think about an IOU for the roses when they’re not $75 a dozen. Some quiet unknown evening in April or May, just pop in with them and call that good sense.

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Chili-Cheddar Biscuit Pizza

I’m not a big football fan. It’s just not my thing. But like many others, I honor the American institution and for Super Bowl you’ll often find me stretched out on the couch with the Sunday New York Times scattered around me and a glass of wine on the easy-to-reach end table. I even occasionally glance up to check the score, look at uniforms (which team is which color?), or comment on the commercials. As a cook, my main interest is in the half-time spread and that’s as it should be. As a musician, I often really enjoy the half-time show, and that cook persona gets her work done early so her singer self can enjoy what is surely the best part of the day. I mean, think Blues Brothers, Paul McCartney, and Lady Gaga as earlier favorites. Maroon 5 this year promises to be spectacular!

Complete Super Bowl Watching Info Here.

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French Onion Soup: Lost and Found

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            Soupe à l’Oignon Gratinée–skip the story and get the recipe here

I married at 20 in 1974, and while I had a basic knowledge of cooking thanks to my food-loving parents, being in total charge of making sure there was food on the table for two people every day came as a bit of a shock.

After all, I had other things to do. There were two part-time jobs (one in a university office and one at a local restaurant–an old school red sauce place, by the way) and I went to school full time. I had a million books I wanted to read (and did) and I sang wherever and whenever I could. There were friends to hang out with, walks to take, dreams to make.  And I had to student teach sometime if I wanted to graduate!  What a body-blow it was to assume most of the burden for shopping, housework, and laundry because, well, that’s how things were despite my finest efforts to get the Equal Rights Amendment passed. There were more than a few battles over those things, you could rightly assume. Perhaps an issue or two still occasionally floats to the surface because, well, I guess life has to remain interesting and we’re sometimes still working something out.  (Who is cleaning out the laundry room this week, by the way?)

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